The Basic Set will come in white and include 8GB of flash memory for storage and will be priced at $299. A Deluxe Set will come in black and include 32GB of flash memory for storage and it will be priced at $349. Despite some suggesting that the 32GB flash memory in the Deluxe Set is a sort of higher speed flash memory, those we spoke with say this simply isn’t accurate. Nintendo Land is bundling the Deluxe Set, while the Basic Set does not include any games. Whispers suggest that $300 is the break-even point for the console, so don’t look for the price to drop quickly.
As for the hardware, Nintendo did confirm that it would be powered by a multi-core IBM PowerPC-based processor (rumored to be tri-core, but not confirmed by Nintendo) and it will use an AMD Radeon GPU (said to be a 40nm R700 AMD family part that was customized for Nintendo, but Nintendo will not confirm), as we have already told you. The unit will offer a SD/SDHC card slot that will support cards up to 32GB in size and it will allow for external USB storage, such as USB hard drive or USB flash drive. The optical drive is able to store 25GB per disc and it is compatible with both Wii U and Wii discs, but it will not offer any GameCube compatibility. While not Blu-ray compatible, the optical media is from the Blu-ray family and supports a transfer rate of around 22 MS/s. We are told that the unit offers no Blu-ray movie playback compatibility. Triple-A titles for the unit will carry a MSRP of $59.99, which is no surprise.
The system itself has 2GB of actual system memory. 1GB of that is flash reserved for the OS, while the other 1GB can be used by applications and games. From what we understand the Wii U OS runs on a separate ARM-based processor that is custom for Nintendo, but this still remains unconfirmed by Nintendo. The Wii U is said to only consume 75 watts of power when under load and only 40 watts at idle or in menus.
Connectivity can be made using the internal wireless LAN adapter that supports 802.11b/g/n. The unit has no built-in Ethernet port for wired networking, but does support the use of Wii LAN adapters for wired connections via USB. The Wii U supports six-channel audio that can be output via HDMI or over analog using the Wii AV Multi Out connector. The Wii U supports HD up to 1080p, but can be connected to component video, Wii RGB, Wii S-Video, and Wii AV. It outputs in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16x9 on both your TV and the Wii GamePad.
The unit will come with one GamePad and has the ability to support a second one, but at least to start with Nintendo will not be offering the second GamePad for sale in the North American market. The Wii U can support up to four Wii remotes or two of the new Classic Game Pad controllers. Almost all of the controllers and accessories for the Wii will work with the Wii U. Nintendo has no timetable when they might make the extra GamePads available for sale in the North America market, as they will be available in Japan at launch.
Some analysts are predicting that Nintendo will keep supplies tight on the consoles, with only 1 million units per month being available. The allocation for the North American market is expected to be between 30% to 35% at most. If accurate and you live in North America, you will only have about a 1 in 600,000 console chance to get one for Christmas, which isn’t good odds.